Egypt's cultural scene mourns death of visual artist Hazem El-Mestikawy

Menna Osama, Monday 8 Apr 2024

Several artists and cultural institutions mourn the death of the Egyptian-Swiss visual artist Hazem El-Mesitkawy who passed away on Friday at the age of 59.

Hazem El-Mestikawy


El-Mestikawy was a prominent contemporary Egyptian sculptor renowned for his distinct artwork.

According to the Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art, his art "moves between the realms of architecture, design, sculpture, and visual deception. One of its intriguing aspects is the use of cardboard and cartonnage paper-based materials to design installations that are environmentally sound and at the same time seem solid and impenetrable."

After the artist’s passing, the gallery issued a statement that read: "We cannot believe that Hazem El-Mestikawy is no longer with us. Not only was he a great artist, a hard worker, gifted with incredible manual skills, and so brave in defending his original artistic vision against commercial logic, but he was also a dear friend with whom we shared ideas, feelings, projects, and hopes for many years. There are no words to express the immense sadness for his loss."



Another heartfelt condolence came from New Cairo’s art gallery, Picasso East: "With great sorrow and sadness, we mourn the loss of the artist Hazem El-Mestikawy. We pray that his family and loved ones will be given patience and solace."

Numerous Egyptian artists joined in expressing their sadness on social media platforms.

Salah El-Meligy, former head of Fine Arts sector and Central Administration of Exhibitions and Museums and a professor at the Graphic Art Department at the Faculty of Arts, said El-Mestikawy was marked by creative "purity and nobility."

Art economist and curator Sahar Behairy expressed her grief in an Instagram post that underscored El-Mestikawy's nobility, adding that the artist "made significant contributions to the art world through his unique blend of ancient traditions and contemporary artistic philosophies. With a career spanning several decades and continents, El-Mestikawy’s work delves into themes of space, form, light, and shadow, challenging traditional boundaries and redefining the sculptural discipline, leaving behind a legacy that will remain to inspire, influence and educate.” 



The calligrapher and visual artist Sameh Ismail wrote heartfelt condolences, describing El-Mestikawy as his "dear friend and big brother," while sharing some pictures of his art.

"Goodbye my loving brother and dear friend," wrote yet renowned contemporary Egyptian artist Shady El-Noshokaty, on his Facebook page.

“May God have mercy on him and dwell him in his spacious paradise. Sincere condolences to his family and wife,” El-Noshokaty added.



Hazem El-Mestikawy

Born in 1965, Hazem Mahmoud El-Mestikawy was raised in Upper Egypt, where he received a BA in art education at Minya University.

His unique creative talent was apparent from a young age. He exhibited his work during the consecutive Youth Salons in Egypt - starting with it's first edition in 1989. He was awarded one of the Salon's prizes in 1992, during its fourth edition.

He received the Grand Prize for an installation presented during the 11th Youth Salon (1999)

In parallel, El-Mestikawy began carving his name in Egypt's contemporary art worlds by exhibiting his works – in solo and group exhibitions – in many national and private galleries.

In 1994, he was awarded an artist residency in Switzerland (Pro Helvetia Artist in Residence), a country that eventually became of his second creative home. 

His travels took him to exhibit internationally in Vienna (Austria),  Nicosia (Cyprus), Plasy (Czech Republic), Eschborn (Germany), Madrid (Spain), London (UK), Doha (Qatar), Sharjah (UAE), Iwate (Japan), among other countless locations where he participated in sculpture and visual art symposia, and art shows.

Though moving across countries, El-Mestikawy remained active in the art community in Cairo as a member of the Fine Arts and Architecture Committee of Egypt's Supreme Council of Culture.

He was also a Member of the Egyptians Fine Artists Syndicate and the Cairo Atelier of Artists and Writers.

His work, Patent Pattern, earned him the grand prize at the 13th Asia Art Biennale in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2008. 

In 2011, Hazem El-Mestikawy was among ten short-listed artists for the Jameel Art Prize, launched by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. There, he exhibited a sculptural installation made from recycled cardboard and newspaper entitled Bridge (2009). 

Later on, in 2017, Art Jameel exhibition featured a sculptural installation titled Alif Beh by the artist, which was initially exhibited in 2009 at Galerie Atrium ed Arte in Vienna, Austria. 

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